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Open Water

A horrible disappointment!
Based on all the raves this is getting from the critics, I was stunned at how awful this film is! The film-makers had a great premise, but did not do it any justice. The main failure of this film is that neither of the lead characters is remotely interesting. This is due to two things: 1) the incredibly bad acting, and 2)either rushed editing or a bad script (without knowing exactly what the original script was, it's hard to say). We aren't given enough time at the beginning of the film to get to know these two people; so consequently, who cares what happens to them? The only good thing about this movie is the sound; the music ratchets up the tension without being overbearing, and the lapping ocean water really gives you the feeling of "being there". This could have been a really good movie. One wonders what two accomplished actors and a great director could have done with this material.


A hum-dinger of a movie!
I just rented this and was incredibly shocked at how good it was! Bill Paxton's directorial debut is phenomenal, and even better is his acting in this film. In another actor's hands, the character of "Dad" would have been a showing, scenery-chewing role; but Paxton chooses to play the role with ultra-quiet understatement. His "Dad" truly loves his children and believes he is doing the right thing by them and by God - which makes his character all the more frightening and intriguing. I truly wish this film had been marketed better; it deserves to have been a smash hit, and it's a shame that it wasn't. Paxton most definitely deserves Oscar nods for his acting and directing, which he most certainly won't get.

The only problem that I would say exists with this film is the casting of Powers Boothe. He's an actor who always come across as sinister, and it causes the "revelations" about his character at the end of the film to be not all that shocking. Except for that, the film is great. I can't wait to see what Bill Paxton chooses to do for his sophomore directing effort.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The Chamber Rocks!
Chris Columbus has managed a feat rarely acheived by others - he has made a sequel that is better than the original. "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" flies out of the starting gate (in a Ford Anglia, no less!) and doesn't stop for its 2 hr 42 minute running time (Peter Jackson, take notes!). From the opening moments of Harry and the Weasleys in the flying car, to Harry and Malfoy battling in the dueling club (did they make parcel-tongue sound cool or what?!), to Harry's confrontation with Lucious Malfoy (which had the audience I watched the film with cheering!), "Chamber" is thrilling, magical, and quite funny - the latter due largely in part to Rupert Grint's comic portrayal of Ron Weasley. In fact, all the kids are great in their roles; Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry with much more bravo and daring than in "Sorceror's Stone", and as a result, makes a quite a good action hero. Emma Watson's character of Hermione Granger is more laid-back this time (though she doesn't really have a whole lot to do - the boys get all the great action scenes!). And it's quite touching to see the special relationship that exists between Harry, Ron, and Hermione as played by these actors; the characters genuinely care about each other and acknowledge each others strengths. The only flaw - which existed in the first film too - is that the more humorous scenes in the book are not in the movie (i.e, the scenes at the Borrough, and A LOT of Gildaroy Lockhart's scenes - which leaves Kenneth Branaugh with not much to do either). But still, the film is a great ride from start to finish - a great job done by all those involved. Kudos!


Still creepy after all these years
This was one of the first films I ever saw that absolutely creeped me out as a kid; I hadn't seen it in years and just caught it recently on Bravo, and I have to say that it still gives me the willies! Anthony Hopkins's performance is nothing short of remarkable (he's a great Lechter, but really, his first Oscar nod SHOULD have been for this film); his scenes with Fats - and the voice he provides for the character - still make my flesh crawl. If you can get past the low production values, and hang in there past the first 15-20 minutes (plus if you can actually find this in a video store), you're in for a pretty frightening psychological ride. Hey, DVD distributors, somebody pick this one up (and get a commentary track with Hopkins, Attenborough and Ann-Margaret!)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Better the second time around
For those of us who know the book backwards and forwards, at first glance the movie may seem a little disappointing. It's hard to watch the movie without thinking with each scene "oh, they've cut this out", or "they changed this a little bit". Much of the wit in the book - like Lee Jordan's hilarious commentary of the quidditch match, and the fight between Harry, Ron and Draco (and Scabbers!) on the train ride to Hogwarts - is missing in the film, which is unfortunate. However, on second viewing, you know what to expect in the film (and what not to expect), and thus it is much easier to see the film for the enchantment that it is! Dazzling sets and special effects make the film a visual stunner. Daniel Radcliffe excels at bringing Harry Potter to life, and even better, he has real chemistry with Rupert Grint's Ron - who, as the comedic relief, steals virtually every scene he's in - and Emma Watson's Hermione, who nails the character's know-it-all attitude perfectly. Chris Columbus - who directed the incredibly awful "Home Alone" series - wisely avoids sappiness with "Sorcerer's Stone" and instead captures the dark tone that runs through Rowling's novel. The movie-makers have done an excellent job at bringing the first novel in the Harry Potter series to life. Can't wait to see what they do with the even better novel, "Chamber of Secrets"!

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